Information on visitors is a necessity for the successful management of protected and recreational areas. Visitor information is essential in ensuring the protection of nature and cultural heritage, quality recreation experiences, sustainable tourism development, and showcasing the benefits of protected areas. This chapter gives an overview of the entire visitor monitoring process from data collection and storage to using the data in reporting, management, communication and decision making. Visitor monitoring includes visitor counting and visitor surveys. With visitor counting one obtains estimates on the amount of use, whereas with visitor surveys one can obtain more descriptive information on visitors. By combining these two types information, one can draw a diverse picture of protected area visitation. When visitor data is gathered in a uniform and systematic manner, it provides possibilities for versatile analyses, reporting and comparisons, both across areas and across time, and at different levels from local to regional, national and international. This kind of information is vital not only for planning and management, but also for well-informed policy making.
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